Students, grandparents in Peru recall victims, lessons of 9-11

PERU — Father Harold Daztman, OSB, was about to ask the younger students at Peru Catholic School where they were when they learned of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, when he stopped short.

“It dawned on me these people hadn’t even been born,” Father Harold, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish, said at a special Mass last Friday that brought together all students and many of their grandparents.

The Mass was part of the school’s effort to make sure the victims, heroes, and lessons of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are remembered, honored and learned. It was one of several such remembrances around the diocese.

In keeping with a national focus, Father Harold encouraged those who packed St. Joseph’s Church to especially think that day in terms of service “to God and to our country.”

“We need to be refreshed on 9-11,” he said in his homily. In addition to a united resolve that “it would never happen again,” the days following the attacks also saw an increase in church attendance and a greater appreciation and concern for family members, recalled Father Harold.

Those resolutions “wore off pretty soon,” he said.

APPRECIATION for family members, especially grandparents, was very evident at Peru Catholic last Friday. Because Grandparents’ Day would be observed in two days, the grandparents of students were invited to attend the special Mass. Their grandchildren sat with them during the liturgy, and then joined them for lunch at the school.

Father Harold asked the grandparents who had served in the military to stand and thanked them for their service. He called their generation “the backbone of not only our country but our Catholic school system and our church, and we appreciate that very much.”

While many students might not remember Sept. 11, 2001, Father Harold said nearly every adult knows exactly where they were when they learned of the destruction and loss of life wrought by the hijacked airplanes.
Father Harold told the students he was at a diocesan meeting in Peoria that morning. Bishop John J. Myers, who had just been appointed Archbishop of Newark in New Jersey, was supposed to be a part of that meeting but “did not appear much” as he checked on the fate of so many of the faithful who would now be under his care.

In addition to remembering the tragedies, the Mass was also a celebration of the “abundance of God’s love and mercy” we enjoy every day.

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